Spreading the good word in Brazil
Bruno Buarque is a Sao Paolo-based producer and composer. From dub to hip-hop to electronica, in the studio or onstage, he uses his Joué for just about every aspect of his musical activities, and is looking to venture further still, introducing the instrument to fellow Brazilian musicians in the process.
His main gig these days may be playing live with Criolo, a rapper and singer who is huge on the Brazilian scene and beyond, but Bruno Buarque is a man of many strings on his bow. In addition to his long-standing dub/reggae project, he collaborates with many different composers and producers in the studio and onstage, and his home studio, where his Joué has fully found its place, is a meeting point for the entire Sao Paolo music community.
Can you tell how you first started using the Joué?
I heard about it on the Internet, because I’m always keeping up with music tech news. I remember being instantly really interested, but didn’t go any further. And then I was on tour with Criolo, and one day, we were in Bordeaux playing at the Climax festival, I bumped into the guys from Joué backstage and we started talking, I tried it out, and I was instantly hooked.
“I have the Joué at my studio, always plugged in, ready to quickly lay down ideas whenever a composer comes by.”
So you brought one back home and started working with it?
Pretty much, yes. I have a studio here in Sao Paolo. I mostly use my Joué for production purposes, either with Logic Pro or with my MPC drum machine. I immediately found that it worked really well with the MPC, which is a piece of gear that I use a lot. I’m a hardware guy: I’m not a big fan of laptops onstage, and I use my MPC as a standalone instrument. So I started programming some MIDI stuff on the MPC with the Joué, and it works really well. Stuff like track mutes, auxiliary sends… That’s where I’ve been really exploring the possibilities of the Joué so far. I have it at my studio, always plugged in, ready to quickly lay down ideas whenever a composer comes by.
What do you like best about the Joué?
What I enjoy most is its modularity. It’s so practical and functional. It’s responsive, quick and super light, so you can take it anywhere with you, but it’s also really powerful. People could think it’s more like a sophisticated toy, but not at all. It works great, it has amazingly low latency… It just worked for me instantly, you know? Also, my mother was a design journalist, so I’ve always been very sensitive to the combination of form and function, and the Joué is a beautiful object in that respect.
And you understood that you could use it not only as a studio instrument but also on stage?
Yes, absolutely. When I met the guys that day backstage, they did a demo on a computer, and I said “I wonder if that would work on my MPC as well”, so I went to the stage where everything was already set up for our gig, and told the tech guy I was going to unplug my MPC. He told me I couldn’t because everything was in place and it was very delicate, but I just did it anyway. I took my MPC backstage, plugged the Joué in it and it worked instantly. So we found out there and then that it was super easy to use and combine both machines together. I don’t think the guys from Joué knew that it would work so well. We started jamming with a guy from the band, I was looping his bass lines and stuff, people started coming over, wondering what was going on. It was great.
“I can do with the Joué the equivalent of what I can do with six or seven different pieces of gear. It’s super powerful.”
What would you say you gain from using the Joué?
Versatility, definitely. The MPC only has its 16 drum pads. If I want to program a keyboard part, I have to plug in a keyboard, if I want to do track muting, I have to plug in a controller. But with the Joué, with one simple piece of gear, I can do it all. And I’m still getting to know it, because its possibilities go really deep. I’m still trying to figure out multi-channel MIDI applications, for example. And also, historically I’m a drummer and a percussionist, so the story of my life has been about carrying around big, heavy, cumbersome instruments. I’m gradually learning to reduce my load while still keeping the big sound and all the possibilities I have in my head. The Joué comes in the picture very nicely here because it’s small, light and portable. I can do with it the equivalent of what I can do with six or seven different pieces of gear. I can stick in my carry-on and have a very powerful setup with me all the time.
Integrating the Joué in your musical habits was a very quick process then?
Yes, it was easy because I immediately started doing with it what I already did before, for example when I used a MIDI keyboard. The Joué found its place perfectly into my setup and my music habits. That being said, I still think that I have to go deeper. I’m actually going to take advantage of some time off to take a little trip with my Joué and explore its possibilities a littler deeper, such as aftertouch, multi-channel MIDI, etc. It’s funny because everyone who comes to my studio is amazed by it. Not only because it’s really fast, but also because it has a look that attracts people. I have a lot of gear in my studio, but people always spot the Joué and ask “what’s this?”, because they’ve never seen anything like it. I’m looking forward to putting together a workshop or something to present it to the Brazilian music community, because there is a lot of interest, and there are a lot of good producers here who are always curious to find out about new equipment.
Interview by Patrick Haour